When I first saw it, some years ago, my reaction to this painting was to laugh aloud right there in the National Gallery. The painting is a brilliant and cynical comment on the true place of the artist in all ages, because the fact is that not one person among those depicted is actually looking at the Cimabue. They are each and all intent on their individual concerns - pomp, status, flirtation, childish games, absorbing conversations.
Florence, it is clear, values the Cimabue as a status symbol, but has no views, one way or the other, on its value as a work of art. Did Leighton sense a similar attitude in his own day?
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